Training Camp: Week 1 Analysis

Training camp is underway around every NFL part in this great country of ours. This is the time for new rookies to stand out and prove their worth every penny spent on them. That is the case for first overall pick Matthew Stafford out of the University of Georgia.

Rookies get paid an unbelievable amount of money before they step foot on NFL turf; signing that dream contract on the dotted line and fulfill their dreams of playing in the NFL.

With the first week underway in new Lions camp, new coach Jim Schwartz has brought a positive attitude towards every single player on the teams roster and has gained high hopes from the front office bosses.

Here is a rundown of the top stories from week one as training camp continues t roll along:


-As expected, the open competition has brought out the best in rookie youngster Matthew Stafford. Many expect the kid out of Bulldog country to be named starter week one as in the season opener against high octane offense New Orleans Saints who have also seemed to have improved their defense from several years ago. From everything I’ve heard and the stories around the net, everyone has received praise in training camp except for veteran QB Daunte Culpepper. Even Drew Stanton, who’s expected to be holding on for his life just to be the third stringer behind the vet and the rookie has outperformed Daunte in camp. If Culpepper can’t come back with a strong week two, then I don’t think he deserves to be on this team because he doesn’t seem to be pushing rookie Stafford as much as some have hoped. He’s been just solid but not spectacular.

MY DEPTH CHART AS OF NOW: Stafford–Culpepper–Stanton


-The starting back spot is set in stone as 2nd year player Kevin Smith will look to continue on his strong late season run into the new year and with a new system comes more carries for the youngster. This should be a breakout season and he should give a huge lift to rookie QB Stafford once he sets foot in an NFL game. Nothing helps a developing rookie more then a respectable running game and that’s exactly what Smith provides. Veteran Maurice Morris, signed from the Seahawks, hasn’t showed much so far in training camp but he doesn’t need to. He’s a proven backup running back and can give Smith some well deserved breathers. Rookie back Aaron Brown is also well in the mix as he’s been most impressive next to Kevin Smith. His flashy speed has showed in the opening week and he’ll try to continue improving running in between the tackles if he wants more playing time but he shouldn’t have a problem making this team as a returner or specialist.

The Lions plan on keeping both fullbacks they currently have on the roster, veteran pickup Terrelle Smith and second year man Jerome Felton should both see some extensive playing time not just blocking, but cal also expect to see snaps on short yardage situations.

MY DEPTH CHART: Kevin Smith–Maurice Morris–Aaron Brown

MY DEPTH CHART: Smith–Felton


-Aside the obvious, no one’s really stepped up other in camp other then All Pro wideout Calvin Johnson. Free agent pickup Bryant Johnson, expected to start opposite Calvin, has missed all of training camp in part to a freak accident. Dennis Northcutt, acquired from trade, hasn’t shown any flashes also. This position might be the biggest mystery heading to preseason. But it’s only week one roster spots are still up for grabs. Rookie Derrick Williams has shown his speed during camp but no one has really stood out other then Calvin Johnson, no surprise there. The Lions also have several other youngsters looking to tryout and make the team but all are very raw receivers but with the lack of talent behind the top two receivers, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two make the team.

MY DEPTH CHART: C. Johnson–B.Johnson–Northcutt–D.Williams–Standeford


-Brandon Pettigrew has yet to appear in camp since his early injury but he did show some good stuff in the short time he was able to practice and run drills. The other roookie TE and seventh round draft pick Dan Gronkowski on the other hand has excelled in the absence of a few of the Lions top tight ends. He’s showed off his blocking technique as well as pass catching ability. Will Heller is an excellent blocker and Jake Nordin, although inconsistent with the catch, is a good blocker as well. Casey Fitsimmons has missed all of camp and is expected to be out longer. Brandon Pettigrew, the Lions other first round pick, will no doubt be starter from day one, if healthy. I believe the Lions will keep just two or three tight ends so look for Heller, Nordin and Gronkowski battle it out for that final couple spots. Should be a great battle.

MY DEPTH CHART: Pettigrew–Fitsimmons–Gronkowski–Heller–Nordin


-Like many, no one really knows how good (or bad) this Lions O-Line really is. So I won’t go into much detail on this as I haven’t seen much of the O-Line to be able to comment on it. But from the early reviews, it’s been pretty inconsistent as the D-Line has dominated the offense at times.

MY DEPTH CHART: Backus–Loper–Raiola–Cherilus–Jansen–Peterman


-Second year man Cliff Avril and veteran Dwayne White seemed to have locked up both the end positions. Avril is expected to have a huge year under new defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham who blitzes more then any coach in recent years. The depth behind those two however, other then DeVries, have yet to show much improvement from a year ago. Grady Jackson seems to be the starter but with him missing most of the first week and also being banned for the first four regular season games, the Lions must hope that their young guys progress early and help fill that void. Chuck Darby is expected to be the other starter. Andre Fluellen has showed the most talent in early training camp. Sammie Lee Hill and Landon Cohen are still raw and need to get better technique. Hill has all that you would look for in a DT but coming from a small school in Stillman College, competition is something getting use to so don’t expect him to see any playing time early on in the season unless he has a huge preseason which is highly unlikely.

MY DEPTH CHART: Avril–Jackson–Darby–D.White


-The strength of the defense, YES STRENGTH! When was the last time the Lions can head into an NFL game with an advantage at any position? I sure can’t remember. This revamped LB crew should provide veteran leadership this defense has longed for and the younger players will look up to these three for support. Ernie Sims looks to bounce back from a dismal year. Superbowl winner Larry Foote, acquired in free agency also looks ot solidify that all important middle linebacker position. And Julian Peterson, my favorite acquisition of the offseason, will definitely provide the veteran leadership and run stop ability he has shown for years that the Lions have lacked in more then a decade. The depth is also strong as rookie third round pick DeAndre Levy should step in on four LB sets. Other youngsters may also see significant playing time on special teams.

MY DEPTH CHART: Sims–Foote–Peterson


-Philip Buchanon looks to have locked up the starting corner spot. Anthony Henry is widely expected to be the second starter opposite Buchanon. Behind those two however is inexperienced backs with very little starting time. Eric King was brought over from Schwartz Titans and should make an impact in nickle and dime situatoins. Keith Smith has yet to show he deserves to start but should be put to the test under new defensive coaches schemes.

-The safeties are also in a similar situation. Louis Delmas, rookie top of second round, has locked up a starting safety spot. Daniel Bullocks was my pick to start opposite Delmas but with injuries slowing him down, look for new man Marquand Manuel to take that spot from him. He’s been very decent in practice and had a good overall year a season ago for the Broncos. Kelvin Pearson also showed promise but he has likely seen his last days as starter. Stuart Schweigert is also expected to win one of the backup spots on this roster.

MY DEPTH CHART: Delmas–Manuel–Bullocks


-Jason Hanson and Nik Harris, enough said.

-Derrick Williams, Aaron Brown, Adam Jennings and Aveion Cason are competing for the return spots.

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2 Responses to “Training Camp: Week 1 Analysis”

  1. william rhoads says:

    i am pleased that detroit lions have some good things for a change its been a long time and this is one town that needs some good news and a wining team would make everything else a little easier to deal with and i am so glad that we a real president and a real coaches instead of no names or first time mcmillen type,why am i optomistic about detroit lions they have coaches that have been sucessful in what they do and i cant remmeber that last time we had that i wish barry sanders was a rookie and had these coaches he would of added at least 2500 yards to his total there has een none better just ask the ex running back from dallas smith he knows and said that barry sanders was the best next to walter from chicago thanks again

  2. Bill Wert says:

    Boy, all new names, I hardly recognize anyone but I’ve been a Lions fan since 1954 and I’m ever hopeful. I am particularily hopeful that we may finally have a real pro quarterback in Stafford.

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